Friday, May 4, 2012

On "Awakening". . . .

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

~ Marianne Williamson, author
"A Return to Love"


My mom called me this morning and said that the cryptic-ness of my last post left her with a sense of angst. That or just such curiosity about what the hell happened in her daughter's life that she felt compelled to text me at the crickety-crack of dawn for some interrogation.

You just gotta love Grandma Shugsie.

Well, I called her this morning and explained. Next I emailed one of my other favorite silent knights of my blog-reading round table because she had questions too. And I thought I could just leave it there but then I saw a comment from Anonymous Jo saying she, too, wanted to know more. Poopdeck left me a comment that just had question marks. That made me wonder if this meant others might have angst.

That or just curiosity about what the hell had happened.

Okay. . .so first of all let me just say that I'm sitting in an airport typing this on my iPad. Furthermore, I find the newest version of the Blogger app to be quite craptacular. So you'll have to bear with this and the typos and cut me some slack until I get back to my laptop. Especially since I'm attempting to reduce angst.

That or just to reduce the curiosity about what the hell happened.

Remember the fateful day that that medical student happened to email me while I was being held captive in jury duty? And remember how that series of emails led to a phone call? And do you recall how that phone call then morphed into a relationship that wasn't really forced or fabricated but instead just kind of happened?

Remember that?

So check it--that whole thing was crazy. No--really--it's crazy because me getting into that exchange with her was, in a way, a bit of a miracle. I get so many emails and especially emails like that one. How serendipitous it was that she reached out to me when she did and that I was where I was. So that in itself was pretty amazing.

But then there was her story. Life had presented a few speed breakers to her medical school travels. But she was still striving and pushing to overcome them. That brought her into my path. She was trying to finalize a one year preliminary training requirement needed before entering an advanced residency. Sounds simple enough. But it wasn't. Doors kept shutting in her face. Over and over again.

So we talked on the phone and she told me that. I heard about those speed breakers and could identify with her scrappiness. I listened to her and immediately felt convicted by her truth and her struggle. It wasn't so much that I wanted to help. This was different. Something inside of me felt ordered to help.

Or at least try.

And try I did. I called. I emailed. I asked. I waited. And nothing. Doors kept closing. Over and over again.

I identified with her. She is young, black and female. She attended a historically black college and was better in person than on paper. And like my dear friend and med school classmate "Wise Jada" reminded me, she was us.

She was me.

So when all of these efforts weren't working, I grieved as if it were me. I stood in a hot shower on Wednesday morning after yet another door seemed to be closing and cried an almost primal cry. I actually couldn't even understand my grief at the time. But it was there.

I called my Dad and talked to him. He listened and provided my misery the company it longed to have. I sent a text to my dear soul-friend the profesora in Pittsburgh. I simply told her I was very, very sad. Like always she was gracious and there for me, which I appreciated. Lastly, I reached out to my fellow Grady doctor Stacy H. who gave me some excellent advice (as always.)

"Just be still."

So I took that advice and sat quietly in my room listening to this song called "Stand." I let those lyrics resonate:

"After you've done all you can, you just stand."

So I sat still on that whole thing. Or rather, I decided to just stand.

Just stand.

And then something happened. Someone who'd heard her story contacted me. They wanted to talk to her. This person felt "haunted" by this story and perhaps ordered to help, too.

So they talked. And like me this person could see the diamond gleaming inside of her. This led to more calls, telephone interviews and file reviews. But this was different because it involved a compassion that this student had not experienced in a very long time.

And then I get the call. The elation in her voice leaped through my iPhone and twirled around the room.

"I got the position!"

And we celebrated her triumph and even her tragedy because without it we never would have met.

At least not like this.

She said, "Remember when you told me that I would win? I needed to hear that. That day when you called me out of the blue, I was broken."


"Broken, Dr. Manning. Broken and defeated and embarrassed. That call that day and all of the text messages and calls afterward lifted and encouraged me."


I could barely speak. But I did manage to whisper, "I knew you would win."

"But how did you know that?"

"Because you are me and I am you. And we fight until we win. That's what we do."

Then I got off of the phone, buried my face into the crook of my arm and just wept and wept. As primal and guttural as I did that morning in the shower that very morning. Maybe even more so.

And perhaps you are thinking that I was crying because I did this for her. But nothing could be further from the truth. I was so emotional because despite my best efforts, I could not fix this. So I took some sage advice and stood still.

And what's really crazy is. . . . I still have never even met her face to face.

And listen. . . no matter what you do or don't believe in, I know for sure that all who convene here can appreciate a spiritual experience. Christians, Jews, Muslims, agnostics, and atheists are all affected by pivotal circumstances. We process them in the way that works best for us, and that's okay. But we all are changed somehow when they happen.

Yes, we are.

When I woke up to go to jury duty that day, I had no idea that I was about to be given this one moment in time. All I thought was that I'd sit on a hard bench and try to stay awake.

But that wasn't the plan.

So I am looking at my life with different eyes. I'm reexamining the ordinary things in it like jury duty and laughter and stillness . . . . and paying attention. Even more attention than ever before.

Here is what I now know for sure:

We are powerful beyond measure. I am powerful beyond measure. And in my "awakening" I can now say that this is no longer my deepest fear.

No, it is not.


Me with Wise Jada, May 19, 1996

*One last thing. . . . .that student will be conferred her medical school diploma on May 19, 2012. . .  . . exactly sixteen years to the day after I received my own.

Happy Friday.


Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . .Donnie McClurkin singing "Stand."


  1. i am sitting here, crying. so many things, the feeling of being "ordered" to help, the counsel to just be still. you did all you could. and you set it in motion. and you both have been blessed by the love that attended your efforts. because when the effort is so very pure, it's fuel is love alone. some folks call that God, spirit, whatever. I say, you committed love. And it filled you up to overflowing. And it fills me too. You are a good, good soul. You shine.

  2. I cried happy tears too. What Angella said, you shine. And the light you shine helps others shine a light too. And so on. It's the simplest and best kind of miracle.

  3. I too developed that lump in my throat and my eyes are moist at the beauty of your being. I am so honored to be witness to your words. You inspire me, especially because you are a doctor that takes the time to share her heart. You are a true gift. I am thrilled that the woman you connected with found YOU in her time of broken-ness. God/Higher Power/Whatever that source is for people can work through all of us if we listen.

  4. Yes .

    Maria, fellow Meharrian

  5. Lovely post!!! I was ALWAYS certain that the young lady's story would have a positive outcome!! And that certainty comes from a lifetime of highs and lows but more importantly, the realization that what may be a "low" for me may very well be God's "high" for me.

    As I'm aging (I'm now 45), I'm growing less and less concerned when things don't work out the way "I" plan, because however things work out, is exactly the way it was supposed to!!

    Finally as a parent, I certainly understand your parent's concern about your earlier post. But as an avid reader of your blog, I knew you too would be "aight", lol!!!

    PS-blogging on an iPad is a super pain!!!!

  6. That song resonates with me to my very core, and I am at peace because of it. There are just some things that must happen in the quiet and stillness of waiting when there is nothing more you can do.
    This girl is blessed in ways that bring tears to my eyes. I am confident that she will make all of us proud and one day she, too, will pay it forward.
    My song now? I'm STILL Standing - not like a little kid, but like a grown-ass woman, living my life like it's golden and loving every second of it!

  7. What a gift! So often we do not know the lives we touch or in what way something we have said or done can resonate in another person's life. To be present in the moment, to appreciate whatever is before you even though it may be something painful or difficult but to really feel the gift of it because it is all part and parcel of your life is one of the hardest things to do. You seem to have developed a mastery of this and your life, and, therefore, your readers' lives are the richer for it.
    Love, Coach B

  8. Angella -- Thank you for being in the moment with me. I hope your birthday was perfect.

    Mel -- What kind words. Thank you--really.

    Anonymous Jo -- Listening isn't always easy. I am so happy she contacted me, too. It made me better.

    Maria -- Yes, indeed.

    Apop -- Amen.

    Shugsie -- You. . .are amazing. I am so, so proud to be your daughter. I truly mean that, Mom.

    Coach B -- That's a good word from a great woman! I appreciate you in more ways than you know.

  9. I've been catching up and your week tonight. Pretty intense. You are blessed in your partnerships, I'd say, in marriage, work, mentoring and being met as an equal by one of your she-ros. I feel lucky to be picking up some of those beams you are shining out into the world. Shine on! x0 N2

  10. I, too, have felt absolutely compelled at times to "do something" and have done and yes, it usually ended up being important. Not for me, so much, perhaps, but for someone.
    I subscribe to an inner knowledge of what must be done, not necessarily a mystical intervention, though. But whatever it is, I am so proud of you for listening to the voice which compelled YOU.

  11. There it is, that crazy thing we call the universe, *One last thing. . . . .that student will be conferred her medical school diploma on May 19, 2012. . . . . exactly sixteen years to the day after I received my own. It's amazing how something can happen and we are reminded we are all one in this place, all connected somehow. It makes you notice the amazing and feel the power of one. Love this post!!!

  12. I love all your posts, but this one resonates with me because I was that student. I was dismissed from medical school and on nothing short of a miracle was readmitted and now am completing my residency. There were a few people, who like you felt drawn to do something, compelled in a way by some involuntary force to help me, to support me, to advocate for me, to see something in me that I did not and sometimes still don't see in myself. But I will press on, and hope that one day I will have my own moment like this, when I can offer the same support to someone else. Thank you, for caring. Thank you for giving of yourself and writing texts and emails and phone calls on behalf of that student. YOU HAVE NO IDEA THE DIFFERENCE IT MAKES TO HAVE SOMEONE GENUINELY CARE ABOUT YOU AND BELIEVE IN YOU! It makes all the difference to those who are broken.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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